Monday, December 6

Book Report

Sat around in my bathrobe reading Carl Hiaasen's Basket Case this weekend. I like Hiaasen, who carries on in the tradition of O'Donald, Leonard, Westlake, et al. The overall plot is kind of dumb--a Cobain-like rocker gets clean, ends up murdered for his Eagles-influenced comeback album by a double of Courtney Love as gold-digging slut--but the thing I liked about it was the blow-by-blow descriptions of a reporter at work. Starts off with the hero researching a story, doing the interviews, thinking about the angle, and writing the story. An honest-to-gosh tutorial. Very educational.

This passage, one of many, on the effects of media market consoliation, has the ring of on-the-ground truth, although he's talking more about the Gannetts of the world than my last company, a Rust Belt trade mag consortium:

Only two types of journalists choose to stay at a paper that's being gutted by Wall Street whorehoppers. One faction is comprised of editors and reporters whose skills are so marginal that they're lucky to be employed, and they know it ... they're at their best arranging and attending pointless meetings, and at their skittish, indecisive worst under the heat of a looming deadline ...

I wish I could have had the book on hand to read to the panel on "convergence" at the SPJ convention back in September. I asked the guys about that very point: What self-respecting journalist wants to attend MORE MEETINGS? Or any meetings at all, really ...


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